These beautiful purple wild flowers, known as Ragged Robin, are found throughout the island of Ireland.
This image, “Purple Flowers in a Green Irish Field,” was captured in a meadow in Aghadoe Heights near Killarney, County Kerry, and appears in my best-selling book, Magical Irish Countryside, the third volume in the Mystical Moods of Ireland series.
Ireland has more than 800 native species of flowering plants, which is a relatively small number compared to other European countries.
County Kerry, home of the 25,425-acre Killarney National Park and with a more temperate climate created by the warm North Atlantic Current, is home to much of the country’s native flora and fauna.
The restricted variety of flowering plants is believed to be due to ice age conditions, which existed in Ireland up to 13,000 years ago. Kilometer-thick Ice sheets likely covered the northern two-thirds of the country.
By roughly 8,000 B.C., the ice sheets began melting as temperatures rose, allowing plants and vegetation to begin to establish themselves.
Back then, the sea level is believed to have been 80 to 100 meters (264 to 330 feet) lower than it is now, and scientists think a land bridge connected Ireland and Wales, allowing plants and animals to migrate over to Ireland until sea levels rose and cut off that route some 7,500 years ago.
Between 1900 and 2000, the sea level worldwide rose between 10 and 15 centimeters (four to six inches), but that rate is accelerating. Some predictions indicate an increase of up to a meter (three feet) by 2100.
With the sea level continuing to rise as polar ice caps melt, many of Ireland’s lower coastal areas could be submerged in the next 1,000 years!